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Dawson County Leaders Graduate from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development
Economic development grads
Dawson County graduates of the Region 2 Multi-Day Training with Georgia Academy for Economic Development pose for a photo at the Nov. 9 ceremony. From left, Carrie Barnes with Georgia EMC, graduate Leslie Clark, graduate Steve Melching and Rope Roberts with Georgia Power. Not pictured: graduate Nicole Stewart - photo by For the Dawson County News

The Board of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development recently announced Dawson County graduates from the 2017 Region 2 Multi-Day Training Program. 

Class participants represented a number of professional and non-professional economic development fields, including elected officials, public servants, business leaders, educators and social service providers from 13 counties in Region 2 Georgia.

 The Academy provided each of the graduates an opportunity to gain a unique understanding of the complexities of economic and community development on the local, regional and state levels.

Dawson graduates of the academy included Leslie Clark, Steve Melching and Nicole Stewart.

Created in 1993, the Academy assembles a cross-section of economic development professionals and resources to provide this training in all twelve service delivery regions in Georgia.  The Board of Directors of the Academy represent public and private economic development organizations and agencies from across Georgia. 

Georgia EMC and Georgia Power provide facilitators for the program, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs provides staff support to this important program.

 “Our Community Development team is proud to partner with and provide facilitation and presentation services on behalf of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives,” said Pat B. Merritt, Georgia EMC’s vice president of Community and Economic Development, in a Nov. 13 press release. “Involved since its inception, the team’s work with the Academy graduates has enhanced levels of leadership capacity and community development preparedness for continued economic development progress throughout the Region.”

 In Region 2, CED cooperative members are Habersham EMC, Hart EMC, Jackson EMC and Sawnee EMC.

Georgia Power Company Community Development Manager Johnna Robinson, chair of the Georgia Academy board, said that Georgia Power has historically played a major role in the state’s economic development.

“The Academy has formalized the opportunity to bring together stakeholders to share best practices, leverage expertise, and build relationships among our communities with the same goal in mind: ensuring economic growth and prosperity for our state,” Robinson said. “We are proud of the strong partnership that delivers this program in each of our regions every year.”

The Academy’s multi-day program, taught one day a month over a four-month period, includes training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product development, downtown development,  planning  and other essentials for community success.

 In addition, the curriculum features specific leadership skills such as consensus building, ethics in public service, collaborative leadership and other segments needed for effective community leadership in economic development.  Local elected officials may receive certification training credits through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association for completion of this program.

The next Region 2 Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in August 2018.  For more information on this, please contact Kathy Papa at (770) 362-7078 or by email at